Chris Schwarz's Blog

Video: Glue up a Panel


Many beginners make gluing up panels a lot harder than it should be.

They add biscuits or splines for alignment, which can also cause some mis-alignment if you aren’t careful with your machines or match planes.

They also purchase or build curious jigs for keeping the panel joints aligned as they apply pressure.

In my opinion, all these things make the process take longer, which means your glue can set up while you are fiddling around.

This video shows how I do it. I’m using liquid hide glue here, but you use the same procedures for any glue – yellow, white or moose-based.

— Christopher Schwarz

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32 thoughts on “Video: Glue up a Panel

  1. dskinner

    There is no mention of a strength consideration when gluing these panels. If downward weight in the middle is expected (such as with a bench sear for example, would it not be better to use biscuits or pocket screws?

  2. talonts

    Wax paper! A single strip under those clamps would have meant no floor cleanup. Or plastic wrap. Or plastic shopping bags. Or…

    Especially on a nice wood floor like that!

  3. K-Dub

    Chris, I love the hi-tech tool you use to spread the glue. That’s how I learned from my shop teacher back in the day. Just remember folks, you don’t want to do that with a CA or polyurethane glue.

  4. Christopher Hawkins

    Sigh… I had completely bought into the 1000 psi “knowledge” about clamp pressure. No wonder I was having trouble with bowed panels.

    PS The singer and banjo sounded like Richard Hood (personal friend) of the old Bristol Brothers, but I don’t remember him playing with someone playing a harmonica. Who were the artists?

  5. DocBunn

    Ok, so I read your books about building my own bench so I wouldn’t have to work on the floor anymore. Now you’re back to working on the floor again? What gives? ;)

  6. tsstahl

    There was a time when I traveled the less developed world quite a bit. Although not looking for any woodworking type of activity, twice I saw folks simply prop the bottom board between rocks, stack glue soaked boards on top and let gravity do the rest.

  7. GoodellPratt

    This method works great with parallel clamps, but pipe clamps can cause the panels to lift in the middle. The best way to counteract this tendency is to use a couple more clamps with the bars on the top of the panel.

    Ken

  8. BobOnton

    Just wondering why you don’t add a clamp of two to the top of the boards to prevent cupping or twist? Or isn’t this a problem with that type of clamp? Also wondering about the lack of newspaper under the glue lines to prevent black marks on the boards? Cheers:)

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      Bob,

      As long as you don’t over-clamp, the boards won’t bow. THis works with every clamp.

      I don’t use newspaper because the clamp bars are on the underside of the top. Any mark there will never show.

      1. wrduffield

        That is incredibly close to the way I’ve learned to do them, too, except I assemble and glue them up on the bench, and stand them to dry on the floor. Of course,
        I need a wide bench, or one away from the wall, but it’s not as rough on my knees.

        A technique your video does not show is checking for twist in the glued up panel, and how to take it out before the glue dries. This is more easily done if the clamped panel is standing on the floor, where you can apply pressure with weights, cauls, wedges or clamps to counteract the twist while the glue is setting up.

        If I’m using pipe clamps instead of K-bodies, then I alternate top and bottom, and provide spacers, made of PVC pipe, to keep the iron pipes off of the top surface of the panel. You need to apply more pressure if you’re using aliphatic resin glue, or if you are using the spring joint technique for panels that might be subject to wide variations in humidity.

        It sure looks like you used a power jointer to match plane the edges. probably the same technique I use: boards marked In and Out, to designate which face goes against the jointer fence. OTOH, If I’m match planing with a #7, then I just use the triangle to make sure I keep the top faces facing each other when I clamp them, by pairs, in the shoulder vise and board jack.

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      These are some older Bessey clamps I’ve had for a while. Any clamp will work fine as long as you don’t over-clamp.

      Don’t buy into the argument that you have to add 1,000 pounds of pressure to get a good joint. Traditional woodwork was done with rub joints.

      A little pressure helps keep the surfaces close to one another while the glue cures, but nothing helps more than two well-prepared surfaces.

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      Parallel clamps are nice, but they aren’t the reason the method works. It’s about not over-clamping. As soon as the joint closes, you stop applying pressure.

      You don’t need to squeeze the joint to death to get a good bond.

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      Tim,

      Wiping the glue has never caused a single finishing problem in my shop. There are lots of myths about this, including that it pushes the glue into the pores. It simply is not a problem. You wipe the glue off and whatever little diluted bit of glue might be left is removed by planing or sanding.

      I have been doing it this way since 1993 have never ever had a finishing problem.

      Try it on a sample panel and I think you’ll agree.

  9. ecafsub

    Had to register just so I could offer kudos for the Monty Python reference. I already thought this was the best woodworking blog around. Now it’s just gotten infinitely better.

    Psst! I think a møøse hijacked Megan’s account! Møøse posts can be pretty nasti, too.

    –Ralph, the Wonder Llama

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